Pres. Trump tackles Israeli-Palestinian peace, calls it: “toughest deal”

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Pres. Trump tackles Israeli-Palestinian peace, calls it: "toughest deal"

The U.S. has reaffirmed its support for the search for peace in the Middle East. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on Wednesday and vowed to work as a mediator to help both sides.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

Pres. Trump tackles Israeli-Palestinian peace, calls it: "toughest deal"

The U.S. has reaffirmed its support for the search for peace in the Middle East. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on Wednesday and vowed to work as a mediator to help both sides. CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

U.S. President Donald Trump believes a new mediator is the key to achieving peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Asked what makes this effort different, after so many failed American presidential attempts, his spokesperson, Sean Spicer said, “the man is different.”

Trump welcomed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House Wednesday, pledging his dedication to a lasting solution.

“We’ll start a process that hopefully will lead to peace,” said Trump in a televised joint statement with Abbas. “Over the course of my lifetime, I have always heard that perhaps the toughest deal is the deal between Israelis and Palestinians. Let’s see if we can prove them wrong, okay? Okay.”

Trump has sent his Middle East negotiator to the region twice for a series of meetings. Jason Greenblatt has also met with the delegations twice at the White House. Abbas appeared hopeful with Trump as negotiator-in-chief.

“I believe that we are capable under your leadership and your stewardship—your courageous stewardship—and your wisdom, as well as your great negotiating ability,” he said. “I believe with the grace of God and all your efforts. We believe that we can become real true partners to you to bring about a historic peace treaty under your stewardship.”

Abbas wants to start any negotiation with Israel based on a mutual recognition of Israeli and Palestinian statehood, a return to their 1967 borders, and a two-state solution. Trump has yet to endorse that approach.  Abbas also made a broad call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop approving settlements in the West Bank.

“No unilateral steps must be taken to get a head of the agreement at this moment,” Abbas said before the cameras.

During February’s White House visit by the Israeli Prime Minister, Trump similarly pressed Netanyahu on those settlements.

“Please hold back on settlements a little bit,” Trump asked Netanyahu during a press conference in February.

“It’s hard,” said Netanyahu, after quipping: “That’s the art of the deal.”

There are real questions about whether Abbas can truly negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Earlier this week, his rival government, Hamas, moderated its position on Israel by endorsing a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank without officially recognizing a Jewish state.

And opinion polls last year show two-thirds of Palestinians believe Abbas should resign. His term expired back in 2009.

Former advisor to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Diana Buttu told CGTN’s The Link program Wednesday: “When it comes to Palestinian spectrum there’s definitely is disunity, and this has been the number one issue Palestinians are indicating is something that needs to be resolved immediately.”